My Favorite (Category of) Bookstore

Jun 2, 2021 | 2021 Articles, Books & Tales, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Molly MacRae

Here is another post in our series where authors and others share about their favorite bookstore!

I collect bookstores and keep them organized in categories. (Years ago, I ran an independent bookstore, and more recently I retired from the public library. Organizing books and places where you can get books = natural aptitude.) The abbreviated title of one category in my collection is “How Fast Can I Get There?” (The full title is “How Fast Can I Get There, Step Inside, and Breathe the Whole Place in, Because if I Didn’t Really Care, I’d Just Stay Home and Go to Their Website?”)

Bookstores in this category (an illustrated list with links to their websites) are ones I’ve visited (most over and over) and are currently in business. Here they are in reverse geographic proximity to the starting point – my desk in Champaign, Illinois.

2,157.5 miles – Books Inc., Mountain View, California. Books, Inc. has an origin story that includes the Gold Rush, fire, relocation, re-naming, bankruptcy, and triumph as the West’s oldest surviving independent bookseller. There are ten locations throughout the Bay Area. This one’s in charming downtown Mountain View and has a balcony where I can sit and write with one of my brothers.

Books, Inc.

2,139.9 miles – Stinson Beach Books, Stinson Beach, California. In a neat old house, on Highway 1, near the beach. The shop is a bit like a Tardis – it’s bigger on the inside. It is the only bookshop located on the San Andreas Fault. The San Andreas Fault! You get a frisson of fear with your books.

1,012.1 miles – Books to be Red, Ocracoke Island, North Carolina. Another shop in an old house – this one a cottage built in 1898. Wonderful selection of books, cards, games, gifts, and pottery, in a town on island that I love.

Books to be Red

978.6 miles – Buxton Village Books, Buxton, North Carolina. Another shop in a house on an island, this time Hatteras. Also Tardis-like. I always find something here to buy.

418.8 miles – Fair Isle Books, Washington Island, Wisconsin. Continuing the theme of bookshops on islands that I love. This shop didn’t exist when I spent my childhood summers on the island, but what a wonderful addition. A wide selection of titles in a small space. Well worth the visit.

1.2 miles – Jane Addams Book Shop, Champaign, Illinois. 70,000 used titles, in 100 categories, in fifteen separate rooms, on three floors, in a great old building downtown. For a short while, I worked part time here and full time at the public library. I like books.

.6 miles – 11 minutes by foot! – FriendShop Bookstore, lower level of the Champaign Public Library, Champaign, Illinois. Run by the library’s Friends volunteer organization, the shop sells gently used books (either donated or discards from the library’s collections). Great prices, always an unusual selection, and frequent special sales.


Other categories in my bookstore collection that might be of interest:

“Gone, and I Will Always Miss You”
“Someday, Someday” First on this list is Leakey’s Bookshop. It’s only 3,737 miles away in Inverness, Scotland!
“Bookstores That Only Exist in the Between the Pages of Stories and Covers of Books”

I also collect public libraries.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Be sure to check out our new mystery podcast too with mystery short stories, and first chapters read by local actors. A new episode went up this week.

The Boston Globe says Molly MacRae writes “murder with a dose of drollery.” She’s the author of the award-winning, national bestselling Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries and the Highland Bookshop Mysteries. As Margaret Welch, she writes books for Annie’s Fiction. Her short stories have appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine since 1990, and she’s a winner of the Sherwood Anderson Award for Short Fiction. Visit Molly on Facebook and Pinterest and connect with her on Twitter or Instagram. You can also find her on the second and fourth Saturdays each month at Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen and the first Sunday each month at Writers Who Kill.


  1. Thanks for having me, Kings River Life. A fun question ponder!

  2. Buxton Village Books is my favorite. So glad you like it too. I visit Hatteras Island every year(over 50 years)and chatting with GeeGee is a highlight of my visit. The shop has recently been remodeled and I can’t wait to see it.
    Just finished Heather and Homicide and it kept me guessing until the very end. Great series especially for lovers of Scotland. I seek out bookshops on my travels and I’m a retired public librarian. The two must go hand-in-hand!


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